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Westpac named third most fined bank worldwide

2 minute read

The big four bank has racked up the third-highest penalties globally in 2020, according to a new report.

Data from market researcher Finbold has indicated only three countries accounted for 97.3 per cent of all bank fines issued, as at 22 October.

The majority of the total  €11.61 billion ($19.1 billion) in penalties have come from the US, with $15.1 billion coming from the US, followed by Australia’s $1.27 billion, while Israel banks trailed closely, with $1.25 billion in penalties. 

Goldman Sachs was the most fined bank this year, with $8.68 billion spread over various violations, particularly for its involvement in the 1MDB Malaysian corruption scheme. 

Wells Fargo carried the second-highest fines at $4.1 billion. But Westpac had the third-highest total, with its $1.2 billion fine, the highest corporate penalty given in Australian history, over its AUSTRAC failings. 

Anti-money laundering and know your customer policies were among the largest violations, according to the research. 

Other highly penalised banks included Israel’s Bank of Hapoalim, Sweden’s Swedbank and Germany’s Deutsche. 

Finbold has warned that bank fines are only set to increase in the coming years, as European and Asian regulators are expected to catch with their more aggressive US peers. 

Finbold chief editor Oliver Scott noted that analysts have noted that penalties could have been avoided if banks had better-leveraged technology and software.

Sarah Simpkins

Sarah Simpkins

Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth. 

Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio. 

You can contact her on [email protected].